Saturday, September 17, 2005

Movies I'm Looking Forward To


This Steven Spielberg picture is based on the real-life terrorist killings of Israeli atheletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. An unfortunately appropriately-themed film given current events, this project has already amassed massive buzz and hype as a Best Picture contender. Given the director, and a usually strong Eric Bana in the lead role (despite his involvement in atrocities such as The Hulk, he was the highlight in the unfairly panned Troy), hopefully this movie will not disappoint.

Boondock II: All Saints Day

The sequel to Boondock Saints. One of my favorite movies, the original is simply bad ass. With several memorable scenes (the escape from the Russians post bar fight, taking out the Russian syndicate, the "firefight" sequence), a cool story, lots of violence and swearing, and a funny performace in his only on-screen role to date from David de la Rocco, it's a nice addition to the violent gangster genre that, while Saints is not in the same league, Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas tower over. Willem Dafoe is great as a high-strung FBI agent.

I get a kick out of the Irish Catholic vigilantes go on a morally paradoxical killing spree angle, given my own affinity for Catholicism. I'm also a fan of the fact both brothers have the Blessed Mother tattoed on their necks, but I might be the only person you'll ever hear say that. I hold Mary in the highest regard; the reasons for that I'll save for another post.

Either way, considering the original didn't get a full release because of the Columbine shootings AND the fact director Troy Duffy got blacklisted by Mirimax before it's release - it was only shown in 5 theaters across the country - it's impressive that the film was so enthusiastically received and was re-released on DVD solely on strong word-of-mouth. All for a film that basically went straight to video.

Duffy again is writing/directing the sequel, and, although there's no Dafoe, the two main characters are back, with the addition of what looks like a blonde Irish hottie. Sounds good to me!

The Departed

This promising film boasts a sick cast and director. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, and Martin Sheen are directed by Martin Scorsese in a story about an Irish gang member and a police cadet who respectively infiltrate the other side as moles. A remake of the Hong Kong original Infernal Affairs, which was fairly well-done, one can see why Scorsese might have been excited to re-interpret a movie that came out only a few years ago. Scorsese is responsible for some of my favorite films - Goodfellas, The Last Waltz, and Gangs of New York - and classics such as Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, among others.

DiCaprio, Damon, and Wahlberg have also appeared in some of my favorite movies; these guys are talented and, for the most part, they turn up in more good films than your average successful actor. The Departed is allegedly going to be violent and suspenseful, with Damon mentioning that a sequel would be hard to do given the bloodshed in it. This is one of those projects where it would be quite difficult to not at least entertain and feature high-quality filmmaking and production. This is a lot like when I first heard about a comedy starring Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson back in 2002 - I remember looking forward to Old School as comedic gold well before it was released theatrically. Different genres, but same principle at work.

Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny

The first time I watched a Tenacious D episode was several years ago during college, and I could tell right away that I was seeing something outrageous and funny. At the same time, knowing I have a quirky sense of humor, and knowing that the series was out of left field even for HBO, I didn't think it would catch on. I was sort of right, but mostly wrong on that. The Tenacious D series did in fact die out, but luckily Jack Black is as resourceful and stubborn as his band name suggests. Never ashamed to call themselves the greatest band in the world, the D managed to record an album. The first time I heard their ballad
"Fuck Her Gently" was on the internet, I rejoiced inside for I knew JB and KG had overcome the odds and triumphed; the D was a force, and it was here to stay.

Ben Stiller and John C. Reilly show up in the Pick of Destiny, along with Tim Robbins. On a sidenote, I have a love/hate relationship with Robbins (about 90% hate). I have always liked him because he played Andy Dufresne, a well-acted role in my all-time favorite movie, The Shawshank Redemption. He's a good actor (despite his appearance in one of the worst movies ever: Mission to Mars), but I absolutely hate his political viewpoints on just about everything. I think he's a Communist ass, but at least he had a funny cameo in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, so hopefully he'll follow up with another one here. You also have to like the cheesy yet grandiose pun of a title. One of the few red flags associated with this movie is the unproven director attached to it, Liam Lynch. Either way, expect some funny songs, some wierd adventures, and some lofty claims from the D.

check out some
Tenacious D videos, including "Fuck Her Gently", here

The Passion of the Clerks

Kevin Smith is a good writer-director, even though his work has been a little uneven and inconsistent over the years. Watching Clerks and Mallrats for the first time were memorable movie experiences. This sequel has a lot to live up to, as the first film came out of nowhere with virtually no budget to be an indie classic. Dante and Randal are classic characters despite obvious shortcomings in the script, most of the humor is scathing and crude (in the best way), and you can find some classic conversational dialogue between the novel characters. Jay and Silent Bob launched their recurring characters here, even though I'm still wondering why Jeff Anderson's career didn't pick up considering his performance as Randal was the funniest - he's been relegated to almost exclusively Smith projects. Maybe his style was perfectly suited for this type of movie only, or maybe he caught lightning in a bottle and was never a good comedic actor, who knows.
Rosario Dawson just signed on to the project, and even though I'm not too big a fan of hers, she's still a hottie. Check out Kevin Smith's own website for the best updates on this flick.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Matt Damon will be back to reprise his role as Jason Bourne in the third of this series. The first two were quality espionage thrillers, and there's no reason to think this one will disappoint as long as the same people are involved. I've already mentioned that Damon is a favorite actor of mine (his turn as Will Hunting standing as my favorite character of his), and the Bourne series illustrates some of his range as an actor - it doesn't require too much in the area of thespianism to play Bourne, but he's still a good in a straightforward action role, and it's a departure from most of his more involving characters (excluding, of course, his wonderfully ridiculous cameo in Euro Trip).

more to come...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Letter Never Sent R.E.M. Review Archive



Fables of the Reconstruction

Life's Rich Pageant



Out of Time

Automatic for the People


New Adventures In Hi-fi



Around the Sun

More blogs about R.E.M..

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Poker Sponge

I have to share my favorite poker story and hand of all time, something which occurred in November of 2003 at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with Hold Em or poker in general will not find this anecdote amusing nor interesting. Oh well!

Anyway, I'm sitting at a 20/40 table with a bunch of loose and crazy players, including your stereotypically LOOSE Asian gamblors. One in particular is giving a new definition to the term loose calling station, and a couple young kids sitting to my left had pointed his play out to me as soon as a sat down. These two young players were fun to play with, and, over the course of the evening, I had become buddies with them and enjoyed watching the donkeys around us play their hands. A.J. sat to my immediate left. He was always joking around, and the fact he sounded like Marlon Brando in The Godfather (except with an even higher, raspier voice) made him even funnier. To his left was his friend Alex, a solid Asian kid who was running bad that night. Finally, in the 1 seat, playing EVERY hand, was an old Asian man in his 60's. This guy was there to GAMBLE. I'm talking about calling three bets cold with 2-7 suited. If he held an Ace, see you at the river. Gutshot draw with two cards to make a pair lower than the board? See you at the river!

A.J. had said an hour before, "Check out the guy in the 1 seat, he's a huge sponge." "Sponge?", I asked, as I was unfamiliar with the term. Apparently it was poker lingo for a player who absorbed incredible amounts of bets and raises with astonishingly awful hands. I hadn't heard the term before, but I took a liking to it. Anyway, I'm in the 7 seat, in the small blind, when I get dealt pocket aces (A
, A ) and the following hand occurs:

Alex folds, fold, Sponge calls (shocker), call, raise, call, fold, fold, fold, and action is to me. I make it three bets to go, A.J. immediately folds and wishes me luck, Sponge insta-calls two bets cold, and everyone else calls. The flop comes:

J 8

As I was the small blind, action starts with me. I know I have the best hand, but the table was playing loose-aggressive, so I check with the intention of check-raising the flop and hopefully taking control of the hand. Sponge checks, check, 3 seat bets, and 4 seat raises. I still had no doubt that I had the best hand, and figured I was up against a J (the 3 seat, probably QJ, KJ, or AJ) and a club flush draw (the 4 seat). I raise and make it three bets. In the play of the night, the Sponge makes what is now a routine call. It's not too often that you see anyone cold-call THREE bets, much less after the flop, but this man was not to be denied. Anyway, the 2 seat folds, and the 4 and 5 seat both call. I'm even more sure of my read now. The turn:


This isn't a great card for me, but it's not a bad card either. The only player I'm worried about is the Sponge at this point, and I bet out. The Sponge makes another quick call, and the other two players call as well. Now the moment of truth, a sizeable pot and one card to come. The river:


Sort of a nauseating card. The flush draws are busted, but any 7 makes a straight. I still think I'm good and figure if I'm beat, I'll know when I'm raised. After my bet, everyone is silent, with the remaining players still in the pot contemplating. At this point I sensed that no one had a straight. The Sponge called my river bet, which was no surprise, and the 3 seat disgustedly called while the 4 seat folded. I flip over my aces, and the 3 seat says "Nice hand, I had a jack." A couple other guys say nice hand, and A.J. sitting next to me was whispering "You're good, you're good, that's a monster." After what seemed like another 10 seconds, the Sponge finally speaks up after seeing my hand. "No goo!! Two peh!," and the Sponge flipped over 5,6 off for runner-runner two pair.

"Oh my fucking God, the Sponge just hit runner-runner two pair, that's so awful!" were the words of empathy from A.J. as I mucked my aces after flashing them quickly. I was a little disappointed in losing a nice pot, but I couldn't help laughing after thinking about what had transpired. After dumping a couple thousand, the Sponge used his 3 bets-cold- for- a- gutshot-on-the-flop hand to catapult himself into a nice little rush, as he started combining suckouts with a few genuine monster hands to win back his lost thousands, only to start absorbing bets and giving chips away again.

It's funny to think that those swings are part of the reason Sponges everywhere play the way they do, along with the fact they can't tolerate not being in the action every hand.

200% up to $200!!!